In the important move to reduce the number of SIDS cases, Baby Flat Head Syndrome has become more common. Over the past twenty years, the number of plagiocephaly cases has steadily increased. Despite the growth in diagnoses and plenty of babies wearing cranial remolding helmets, there are still lingering myths about plagiocephaly and helmet therapy.
These are the five most commonly believed myths and why they are simply not true.
Myth #1: Plagiocephaly is the Parents Fault
One common myth about baby flat head syndrome is that when it happens - it’s the parent’s fault. The truth is, even babies whose parents took every measure to reposition, baby-wear, and do tummy time can still develop a flat head. Sometimes, it just happens. Things like uterine restriction, position in utero, torticollis, low birth weight, and several others can lead to head flattening.
It’s important to focus on how to fix a flat head and stop blaming yourself!
Myth #2: Helmet Therapy is Uncomfortable for Babies
When parents learn that their baby will need a cranial remolding helmet, many of the biggest concerns is that their baby will be uncomfortable or even experience pain while wearing the helmet. In most cases, babies make the adjustment to helmet wearing with very little discomfort. In fact, parents are often shocked by how quickly and easily the helmet becomes a normal part of their baby’s routine.
Myth #3: Plagiocephaly is Only a Cosmetic Concern
In the years following the introduction of the Back to Sleep Campaign, the prevalence of plagiocephaly climbed steadily. For some time this type of flattening was considered purely cosmetic in nature. What more recent research has shown is that infants who have moderate to severe plagiocephaly in infancy are more likely to have developmental delays and minor academic delays.
The researchers caution parents and health care providers from making the assumption that plagiocephaly causes these delays. Instead, it is a correlation between the two things and outlines that children who had plagiocephaly should be monitored more closely as they grow.
Myth #4: Babies Need to Wear Helmets for a Long Time
Another commonly held misconception about helmet therapy is that it will take a long time. Helmet therapy length depends largely upon the age that treatment is started and the severity of the flattening when treatment begins. Fortunately, most cranial remolding treatment takes just a few months to complete.
Treatment times for infants who begin treatment at 3 months is approximately 2 months of treatment time. If treatment is started at 5 months, the average treatment time is 3 months.
Myth #5: Helmet Therapy is Expensive
One final common myth is that helmet therapy is expensive for parents. While the cost of helmet therapy is not cheap, in many cases at least some of the treatment cost will be covered by insurance.
When plagiocephaly diagnoses started to climb in the mid-1990s, many insurance companies did not cover the cost of helmet therapy. As more babies received the diagnosis and more babies needed treatment, more insurance companies started to cover the cost (in full or in part) of a custom helmet.
It’s important to look into what your insurance covers in order to know your covered treatment options.
While plagiocephaly treatment is much easier and more effective than many people realize, it doesn’t mean that parents don’t have questions and concerns. By dispelling the most common myths parents can become better educated and more informed so they can make the best decisions for their baby.